Apple faces antitrust action in EU

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

Daniel Ek has been CEO of Spotify since he co-founded it in 2006. Spotify

"It's why, after careful consideration, Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC), the regulatory body responsible for keeping competition fair and nondiscriminatory".

The escalating conflict highlights growing criticism over the way Apple and Google control customer access to digital services.

The complaint asserts that, while the companies initially had a "symbiotic relationship" in 2009, once Apple became a direct competitor with its own Apple Music service, "their restrictions (on Spotify's app) started to become more frequent and extreme", Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel of Spotify told the Financial Times. The agency would have the power to enforce a code of conduct for major tech companies and would compel platforms to share valuable data about consumers with their competitors to lower the barriers to entry and loosen the concentration of market power.

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USA tech giants have already come under intense scrutiny from European Union authorities for their behavior.

Echoing complaints from other media companies, Spotify says Apple charges Spotify a 30% tax on purchases made through Apple's payment system.

"To keep our price competitive for our customers, [this price inflation] isn't something we can do", Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement. Ek says that if the company doesn't comply with Apple's tax, it faces "a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions", on its app. Ek added that Apple "routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades", locking competitors out of Apple devices such as Siri, Apple Watch and Homepod.

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The conflict pits Apple, a gadget giant whose App Store is essential for mobile services to thrive, against the biggest subscription music service in the world and one of the most popular iOS apps.

Spotify has been unhappy with its treatment by Apple for years, and filed an informal complaint with the Commission three years ago, said Jacques Lafitte at the Avisa consultancy in Brussels. "After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we're now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition".

Ek said that Spotify is not asking for special treatment but would like Apple to treat it like other apps that are not subject to the 30 percent fee. The Spotify CEO said that ignoring Apple's payment system could cause serious damages to their communication with customers.

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Under App store rules, Spotify said, content-based apps could not include buttons or external links to pages with production information, discounts or promotions and faced difficulties fixing bugs.

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